The Slovenia Times

Govt Not Acting on Swiss Franc Loans


Addressing reporters after the weekly cabinet session, which also touched on the impact of the surge in the value of the franc on Slovenian borrowers, Mramor said the loans concerned the relationship between the bank and its client.

However, he pointed to a safeguard in the consumer loans act stipulating that the borrower has to be fully informed about all aspects of the loan.

"We have a clear picture that Banka Slovenije (the central bank) has been appropriately warning [of exchange rate risks], but we don't have a clear picture as yet how the instructions have been heeded by banks."

Saying that an analysis on that would follow, Mramor announced a meeting with the Bank Association (ZBS) over recommendations how banks should act when borrowers face problems because of the change in the exchange rate and how they should help them.

He said that the borrowers concerned should discuss possible solutions with the bank, offering early repayment, deferred repayment, rescheduling or change of the loan from francs to euros as possible solutions.

While Croatia and Hungary have opted for fixing the exchange rate for franc loans, the minister said that these two countries "are in a completely different situation having their own monetary policy and own currency, which gives then the lever to influence the exchange rate".

Meanwhile, Slovenia has no such option as a member of the eurozone, and neither does Austria plan any move at the moment, Mramor said based on media reports, while announcing that he would discuss the topic with his Austrian counterpart on Monday.

According to data from the central bank, Slovenian households had loans worth nearly EUR 794m in francs in November.

Holders of such loans have formed a Facebook group in a bid to form proposals for a solution after the euro value of their loans increased following the appreciation in the franc after the Swiss central bank abandoned the cap on the currency.

They appeal for other affected borrowers to join in so they will be able to take joint action along with consumer associations to find an acceptable solution with commercial banks, the central bank and the government.

The Consumer Association reacted by supporting the government decision to check out whether banks had acted in accordance with legislation and recommendations by Banka Slovenije and whether they had suitably informed their customers of the risks.

But the association disagreed with the government's message to borrowers that they should seek recourse in court if they found they had not been properly informed by the banks.

"The consumers who are in great financial distress due to increased instalments cannot afford a costly and lengthy legal battle. It is these consumers who need the most prompt support from the state to protect their interests.".


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